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Posted on Mar 2, 2010 in Electronic Games

Close Combat: The Longest Day – PC Game Review

By DeWitt Cave

Close Combat: The Longest Day. PC Game. Matrix Games. Physical copy $49.99, digital download $39.99.

Passed Inspection: Plenty of battles to choose from, high replay value, strong strategic game

Failed Basic: Poor overall graphics, steep learning curve

The battles in CCTLD bring out the strength of using strategy and tactics wisely before making an all-out assault

Close Combat: The Longest Day (CCTLD) by Matrix Games, a follow-up to Close Combat V: Invasion Normandy, puts you in command of a squad during the invasion of Normandy on June 6th, 1944, and the following days. Matrix Games has improved upon where they left off and now place the entire invasion or defense of Normandy on your shoulders. It is a true strategy game that will make you think twice before attacking an enemy location.


The game starts off with an excellent short movie giving you a brief overview of the invasion of Normandy that gets you quickly into the mindset of the game. By allowing you to choose from Allied or German forces, you can relive those historical battles along the beaches and in the small towns of Normandy. Each mission has a "Victory Location" that you must capture for the mission to be considered a success. This won’t be as easy as grouping your troops together and making a mad dash for your point of interest, not with defenders entrenched in their positions and mortar fire raining down.

Before any battle begins you have multiple options of how to jump into the game. At the "Command Screen," you can select from over 30 battles, take part in various operations or test yourself in one of the campaigns. After selecting your favorite battle or campaign, your next step is to decide whether to follow the footsteps of the Allies or try to change history by playing as the Germans. The user is also able to select certain features such as giving the enemy hidden deployment, having limited ammunition or not always having your men obey orders. This will provide the gamer with a more realistic and stressful battle. By selecting the option disobeying orders, you will think twice before sending your men into position with commands such as "Move Fast." This directive can easily tire out your troops, which can have a huge impact on the battle. Once they are tired, your men will either stop moving toward their assigned location or move slowly even when they are being cut down by the enemy.

As any great general knows, preparation is crucial to victory. The BattleGroup Screen allows you to mix and match the units you want to use in action. If you are concerned that your troops will run into more tanks than machine guns, make sure you bring an extra bazooka team along or add an extra tank to support your infantry. If you really want to test your skills, remove some of your units and go in outnumbered.

Another nice feature is being able to rename your units to personalize each one. It doesn’t add an additional bonus to your side, but in your planning stages it’s fun to rename the squad and give the game a more role-playing style. Finally, the BattleGroup Screen will also give you an idea of what your units are carrying with them into battle. Some will have smoke grenades that can mask your movement on the battlefield, while others will be equipped with mortars and heavy machine guns. Keep an eye on your ammo supply when attacking or defending. It would be rather embarrassing to find yourself pinned down with no way to shoot back.

The battles in CCTLD bring out the strength of using strategy and tactics wisely before making an all-out assault. Before assaulting or defending begins, you may place your troops in an area that will best suit your needs. As the battle begins, moving a recon team to sniff out the enemy location may keep you from running into a trap. As you move your troops without meeting any resistance, you’ll see that your men are running, but once you make contact and the enemy begins to fire, your troops will drop to the ground and move ever-so-slowly on their bellies. It’s a nice touch to see the AI react to an encounter, and it gives you a better sense of what the battle was like.

With the overhead view, you get a great sense of what is happening and where everyone is moving. Using the hedges and houses as cover helps protect your men, but it also can work against you. You won’t be able to fire through hedges, which means you’ll need to establish a line of sight in order to make contact with the enemy. The game rewards the armchair general who adjusts his strategic mindset for each individual battle instead of taking a one-approach-fits-all mindset.

Like most Matrix Games, the graphics are subpar to what most companies are producing today. It’s an issue that isn’t likely to bother veterans of previous Matrix Games, but new players may find it a turn-off. With the capabilities of computers and processors that most people have today, a game should be visually as well as tactical stunning. In this case, Matrix has created a supreme tactical game that is lacking in the graphical details. Similarly, the background music is hardly impressive: the same tune is played over and over, which can get annoying, but it’s easy to turn off the music all together. The sound effects during the game are enjoyable though. Explosions are realistic, and the voices of the men responding to your commands provide an added experience to the battle.

Overall, Close Combat: The Longest Day is a fun game to play, but one that skimps on presentation. It holds up well in the pantheon of strategy first and graphics second, but improved graphics would provide the user with a more realistic gaming experience. Regardless, with the numerous battles, operations and campaigns you’ll find yourself immersed in the game once you get the hang of it. The learning curve is a bit steep to those who are unfamiliar with this style of game, but what a thrill when you finally win your first battle!

Armchair General Rating 84%


  1. Why are you reviewing a game that came out a year ago, and is essentially a scam, cause its nothing but a 10 year old game modified with gimmicks, terrible outdated graphics for 2010 mostly because Matrix is a company that tries to make money without doing any work.

  2. I am sorry you don’t enjoy Cose Combat, but you certainly shouldn’t knock the games or the developers as a result. It takes all kinds in this world.

    These games are not for everyone, to be sure. However, for veterans of the Close Combat games, like myself, who have been playing them since they first came out late in the last millenium (1996), we are glad to see the series revived by Matrix games. Further more, we expect and love the graphics in these games, they are part and parsel.

    You won’t find a much better AI opponent, nor a much better Real-Time Tactical game, IMHO. Best of all ,there are so many different theaters to explore with this series, you can hardly go wrong. They have even modernized it so you can try your hand at fighting battles like those in many hot-spots around the world.

    I say thanks matrix Games, please keep up the fantastic work! When will we get a revamped Market Garden, or even the Original CC in the bocage country of France, just prior to Operation Cobra?

  3. Did you read my post? Did you understand what I was saying? They are charging you 4 times as much as you would have paid for the exact same game Close Combat 4 that came out 11 years ago. The graphics are garbage, why didn’t they update them? Because they are used to selling to people like you. You call it fantastic work? What’s fantastic about it? A 9 year old with a game editor could have made this from pre existing games, its true, a sucker born every minute

  4. I tend to agree with pj on this one. Combat Mission is a much better tactical simulation in the areas of realism. The armor model in Close Combat is terrible, but the infantry model, I will say is pretty good. Having played Close Combat years ago, and moving on to what I thought were better tactical simulations, (Combat Mission), I would say it is not worth buying, unless it was really cheap.

  5. After jumping back into this after years of not playing any CC games, I really have to say this version’s not worth the money. Perhaps I was just looking at these games with my nostalgia goggles on, but the AI hasn’t been improved; unit deployment is terrible, units freeze in place for no stamina/psychological/suppresion reasons, pathfinding is atrocious, enemies charge in for the slaughter in droves; the combat model is still pretty poor – bazooka teams repeatedly miss the broadside of a tank from 30 yards away, with the rocket going near-perpendicular for no particular reason, enemies bunched up on roadways are sometimes completely invulnerable to several squads shooting at them from the surrounding buildings; the graphics, though okay, certainly don’t hold up well to time; it’s often hard to read slight terrain features that greatly affect fields of fire; MG teams sometimes set up so that the gunner doesn’t have a clear shot, no matter what you do, etc, etc, etc..

    I don’t have as much time for these games anymore, but if you’re going to get anything like this again, just move up to Theatre of War. If you want to relive the past, Combat Mission was always better anyway.

  6. There are still some real issues with this game. I rebought it ( i bought the Microsoft badged original back in the 90’s).
    Once you are through the pre game resource management, well the game is more or less identical. I struggle to see where the problems I remember from many years ago have been removed. Enemy AI is bad, and your own troops behave very erratically (pausing for no reason out of cover – and being mown down – just when you are about to spring your trap is really frustrating, and eventually was the reason I gave up on this game (after 3 dyas play)

    As for Combat Mission ARGGHH. Not enough manageble scenarios. Micro manageing a whole division down to armour facing and turret rotation angles level is a job that no -one at all would ever do in the real world.

    Now, I have 72 tanks to move…

    Tank 1, move 270 yards, (not 272 yards. that would be out of cover) Hull down, and armour at 66.4 degrees . Turret rotation 45.7 degrees to both have a possible opportunity shot at the AT gun team in that forest and also cover the infantry squad I will bring up after I have finished postitioning the other 71 tanks in minute ass clenching detail

    Tank 2. OOps I’ve reset my PC, thank god for that

  7. Matrix Games has a following of sorts; bunch of geriatric gentlemen, unable and unwilling to learn anything new. They are a tough crowd; bitching and moaning about every new wargame and would (will) much rather buy the same old, sub-par wargame over and over again. No wonder there are so few new serious wargames; developers don’t think there’s a market. I for one, applaud these rogue developers responsible for the promising games such as ToW (1 and 2), Kharkov 43 etc. They sell to a different, hopefully growing wargamer audience

  8. I do wish that CC would update its maps and campaigns to reflect historical accuracy. I mean gosh you wouldn’t have to put in that much effort to simulate some photo-realistic recon maps and historically realistic force combinations. Yet, not having played the original CC, I’m still having alot of fun with CC:The Longest Day. The campaign map is fun, and gameplay is a blast.

    Hey, I love playing all types of games: graphically intense first person tactical shooters, grinding operational level hex games, and everything in between. Close Combat(and Combat Mission) is one of the most fun realtime tactical games out there, despite its 10 year old 2D graphics, is far more realistic at the squad/platoon level than any of the cinemetographic FPS’s that the kids love so much.

  9. The reason these games are no longer popular with the general public is that it actually requires some forward planning and tactics to win. Modern kids simply don’t have the attention span to play them. Far more popular is pure drivel like Red Alert 3 where you simply need to group select 30 tanks and drive them into the enemy base.

    The only true fault these games have is that the AI will often, if left alone long enough, simply walk into deathtraps you have set up rather than simply hold its position when defending which is disappointing. This is an excellent game though, ignore the negative comments unless you are also in the position of still looking forward to puberty.

  10. This game is great, have a big update on the matrixweb site that make the game even better now, someone know firefight from sean o connor ? lol thats a very small game that is great too and very similar with close combat… and yes this is much more realistic than all the new lame have these days… like theater of war or combat mission, nothing to say about company of heroes thats really bs for idiots if you look for realism.

  11. I just started the cc series and wow this is great I started with my old janes combat Sims but got into cc bridge to far… let’s just saying I have never hated seeing a tank when unprepared as much as this game, cc is great

  12. Hi,Happy to see this dabate is still going well and strong seven years after discussion created!I for one had the original CC2/3/4/5 as they were known back then and i struggle now to know which one of the remakes is from which of the original five!?however being old fashioned and a grog at heart we dont like change and the devs realsise dthis after their unfortunate mishap into the FPSgenre few years ago,this bombed and they went back to what worked and stayed there.I recently bought PIF and happy to say ive got the bug again,hence im here/Matrix now looking for CC3 or its remake!?..Ill find it soon enough,good to see some new meat too!!heres to another 20 years!!chears!


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